Some incoherent thoughts and some off-the-mark observations in the wake of Tuesday night’s 24-14 Eagles implosion to the Vikings:
--I hate to be a killjoy, but I’m really getting that one-and-done feeling about the Eagles.
Despite their poor 331-yard, 3-turnover, 6-sack, 14-point offensive performance against the Vikings Tuesday night, I don’t think they will have trouble scoring points in the postseason. But their defense just isn’t good enough. Particularly when you consider they’re probably going to be facing white-hot Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in the wildcard round.
Too young, too injured and too thin at key positions like defensive end and cornerback. Rookies Jamar Chaney and Kurt Coleman both played starring roles on the Vikings’ final scoring drive Tuesday after the Eagles had closed to within three. Chaney found himself in the unenviable position of having to cover wide receiver Percy Harvin – and what’s up with that, Sean – on Harvin’s 19-yard third-and-11 catch. One play later, Coleman, who had played very well to that point, failed to protect the perimeter when Adrian Peterson bounced outside and picked up 27 yards.
It’s clear cornerback Asante Samuel still hasn’t recovered from his knee sprain. It’s apparently clear to Sean McDermott as well since he took Samuel off the field at one point when the Vikings lined up in a one-wide receiver set.
At the other corner spot, Dimitri Patterson had a second straight poor game and was taken out and replaced by nickel back Joselio Hanson at one point. The Eagles also have a problem at left end. With Brandon Graham on IR, they’ve got no depth behind Juqua Parker. And they can’t keep him on the field for 65 snaps a game, or there’s going to be nothing but a puddle of sweat at left end.
Rookie Daniel Te’o-Nesheim has shown nothing. They put Derrick Burgess at left end for one play Tuesday and never put him back in, which tells you all you need to know about where he is as far as being ready to make a contribution.
So, basically, the Eagles are right back to where they were a year ago at this point. Fretting about the lack of a consistent pass rush from their front four. Since Week 3, the Eagles have had more than 3 sacks in a game just once (4 v. Chicago).
--Sean McDermott did something Tuesday he should’ve done a while ago. He removed Ernie Sims from the Eagles’ two-linebacker nickel package and replaced him with Akeem Jordan. Sims still played in the Eagles’ base defense, but that could change too once Stewart Bradley returns for the playoffs. Don’t be surprised if McDermott goes with Bradley at SAM, Chaney at MIKE and Moise Fokou at WILL in their base for the playoffs.
--The Pro Bowl voting is a joke. Patriots guard Logan Mankins was a 7-game contract holdout and still made the AFC team. Giants center Shaun O’Hara missed 9 games with foot and ankle injuries and hasn’t played all that well since coming back and is going to Hawaii.
--While Eagles defensive end Trent Cole was Pro Bowl-worthy, I don’t have a major problem with any of the 3 NFC defensive end selections – the Giants’ Justin Tuck, the Falcons’ John Abraham and the Bears’ Julius Peppers. I thought LeSean McCoy deserved a Pro Bowl nod ahead of the Rams’ Steven Jackson. But it’s asking a lot to expect players to pay attention to a running back’s receiving numbers as well as his rushing stats. Unless somebody tweets them to him. A guy who deserved Pro Bowl consideration, but who I wasn’t surprised didn’t get any, was Eagles defensive tackle Antonio Dixon. He’s made a night-and-day difference in the team’s run defense since he replaced Brodrick Bunkley at right tackle.
--There is plenty of blame to go around for the Eagles’ inability to deal with those slot blitzes the Vikings threw at them Tuesday. You can start with Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg for not finding a way to block Antoine Winfield quickly enough. You can blame Michael Vick for not recognizing the blitz quick enough and getting the ball out faster to a ``hot’’ receiver. You can blame the receivers, including slot man Jason Avant and tight end Brent Celek, for not seeing the blitz and breaking off their routes so Vick had somebody to throw to. And you can blame running back LeSean McCoy, whose field of vision on blitz pickups isn’t yet on a level with his field of vision as a runner.
--One more thing to add to the list of things Michael Vick does better than Donovan McNabb: blame-taking. Oh, McNabb would always give you those general ``I’m the quarterback, and if something went wrong, it’s my fault,’’ lines. But he seldom would cop to a specific screw-up. But there was Vick Tuesday night, basically acknowledging that he blew the game with his two careless fumbles.
``I got to do a better job of protecting the football,’’ he said after the game. ``Regardless of whether or not we pick the blitz up, it’s still my responsibility to push up in the pocket, two hands on the ball. Drills that we do every day and I didn’t do it. We see the effects and what happened and how that was a huge momentum swing for the Minnesota Vikings.
“The fumble in the third quarter was just me trying to get extra yards, trying to do more than what I could at the time. That’s just trying to press the issue instead of letting it happen and playing smart. You got to be disciplined in this game. You got to be disciplined for four quarters and you got to be conscious of what is going on around you. I failed to do that and it cost us.”
Indeed it did. As badly as the Eagles played Sunday, those two fumbles were responsible for at least a 10- and possibly 14-point turnaround in a game that was ultimately decided by 10 points.